Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I've complained before about NBC's habit of ruining surprises in episodes of its shows, by their insistence on doing promos that invariably warn us not to miss the last five minutes or to be on the lookout for a twist no one could see coming. (Well, now that I've been told about it, I can see it coming, can't I?) Until yesterday, I was glad that this annoyance was confined to NBC. Sadly, FOX appears to have been bitten by the bug, based on their commercials prior to last night's episode of 24. There was a surprise development at the end of the episode, involving the trunk of a car, which FOX was nice enough to telegraph in the promos, with a cop shouting "Open the trunk!" followed by a shot of one of the characters standing over the open trunk, screaming "Oh my God", and the announcer then intoning in grand NBC style, "A twist you won't believe", or something like that. The problem is, as soon as I knew that this particular character was shocked about something in the trunk of this particular car, there was only one possibility as to what the item in the trunk could be. I had it figured out before the commercial was even over, much less before last night's episode even began (I saw the ad during That 70s Show).

The worst part is that this development would have been shocking, had FOX allowed the surprise to be sprung upon us as the show's producers clearly intended it to be. I actually was shocked by this plot twist, but why couldn't FOX have let me be shocked during the damned show? For a surprise plot twist to really work, we have to first be unaware that there is a surprise plot twist in the first place. Of course, the networks don't care about that; what they're after is ratings and ad revenue, so they want to keep viewers from switching channels, so this is their strategy. But that doesn't stop it from being completely annoying.

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